Album Review – Kantica / Reborn in Aesthetics (2018)

Binding Heavy and Power Metal sounds to the orchestral parts of classical music, here comes a promising Italian act with their very melodic and symphonic debut full-length album.

Raised from the ashes of a band named Keeper of Time (which by the way was originally called Guardian of Time when it was created back in 2012), Italian Symphonic Metal act Kantica was born around 2014 from the idea of guitarist Matteo “Vevo” Venzano, who searched for musicians to start a band where they could bind Heavy and Power Metal sounds to the orchestral parts of classical music.  After many lineup changes and a shift from male to female vocals, this Savona, Ligury-based band finally changed its name into Kantica in April 2016, reaching a stable lineup the following year and consequently getting into gear for the release of their debut album in 2018, titled Reborn in Aesthetics.

After the recording of the album, Kantica suffered another lineup change with drummer Daniele Barbarossa leaving the band, being immediately replaced by the young and talented Tiziana “Titti” Cotella. Titti now joins frontwoman Chiara Manese on vocals, Andy “K” Cappellari and Vevo on the guitars, Fulvio De Castelli on bass and Enrico Borro on keyboards, aiming at spreading their heavy and symphonic music born from the fusion of different styles, backgrounds and experiences from the band’s current and former members. In Reborn in Aesthetics (which by the way features an array of guest musicians such as Fabio Rinaudo on bagpipes and Stefano Pellegrino on cello), not only the band successfully achieves their main goal, but they also put the charming port city of Savona on the map of Melodic and Symphonic Metal.

The cinematic intro (Re)Born Unto Aestheticism transports us to the epic world ruled by Kantica, with Fascination of the Elements bringing a fast and furious start that quickly morphs into pure Symphonic Metal led by the beautiful voice by Chiara and the flammable guitars by Andy and Vevo. Then, getting to an even more symphonic sonority led by the band’s former drummer Daniele Barbarossa and his precise beats, the band enhances their epicness and electricity in And Then There Was Pain, with Chiara stealing the spotlight with her potent vocals. And presenting hints of Folk and Epic Metal (which boosts the flavor of the band’s classic Symphonic Metal) we have Hellborn Lust, showcasing a great job done by both Andy and Vevo on the guitars as well as Enrico with his whimsical keys.

Enrico continues to mesmerize us with his keys in another powerful tune by Kantica, titled Albatross, where Chiara’s voice sounds fantastic once again, not to mention Daniele and his kick-ass fast-paced drums. In order to makes things even more flavorful, the band offers us a gentle break before returning with their full-bodied sonority, with Andy and Enrico delivering excellent solos until the song’s finale. In R.E.M. State, operatic elements in the background make the music even more epic and impactful than usual, with Enrico, Andy and Vevo, together with Fulvio on bass, creating a wall of sounds with their strings; followed by From Decay to Ascension, another song with a Folk Metal vibe without losing the band’s core symphonic essence. Put differently, this is a movie score-inspired creation by Kantica where Chiara embellishes the ambience with her passionate vocal performance once again.

Illegitimate Son brings a Nightwish-like sonority, presenting all elements fans of the genre enjoy such as rhythmic drums, melodious riffs and strong female vocals, with adrenaline and passion flowing throughout the entire song which, in the end, makes it one of the top moments of the album without a shadow of a doubt. And speeding up their pace, Kantica awes us all with Psychological Vampire, a full-bodied shredding feast-like song with Andy and Vevo being absolutely on fire with their axes, also with Chiara increasing her vocal reach, culminating in a truly inspiring performance by our Italian diva. The second to last song in Reborn in Aesthetics, named Lovecide, is an interesting power ballad by Kantica, displaying pounding drums and a dark and ethereal atmosphere, with the music flowing smoothly from start to finish thanks to the excellent guitar lines by both Andy and Vevo. And closing the album there’s more first-class Melodic and Symphonic Metal for our avid ears in the form of a song titled Mescaline, with its solid and steady musicality being complemented by eerie sounds and elements in the background, captivating our attention while Enrico and Andy have a short and sweet solo duel.

You can take a full, detailed listen at Reborn in Aesthetics on Spotify, keep up-to-date with everything Kantica on their Facebook page, and grab your copy of such excellent display of symphonic and melodic music on the Revalve Records Big Cartel, as wel as on iTunes or on Amazon. After listening to Reborn in Aesthetics, it seems that after all lineup changes Kantica have finally reached their desired shape and form, providing fans of Symphonic Metal a well-balanced and fun alternative hailing from the Italian underground scene, and let’s hope the magic crafted by Kantica goes on for years to come with more top-tier releases like their debut installment.

Best moments of the album: Hellborn Lust, Albatross, Illegitimate Son and Psychological Vampire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Revalve Records

Track listing
1. (Re)Born Unto Aestheticism (Instrumental) 1:14
2. Fascination of the Elements 5:55
3. And Then There Was Pain 4:23
4. Hellborn Lust 4:23
5. Albatross 4:59
6. R.E.M. State 4:42
7. From Decay to Ascension 3:10
8. Illegitimate Son 5:10
9. Psychological Vampire 5:00
10. Lovecide 5:11
11. Mescaline 5:13

Band members
Chiara Manese – vocals
Andy “K” Cappellari – lead guitars
Matteo “Vevo” Venzano – rhytm guitar
Fulvio De Castelli – bass
Enrico Borro – keyboards
Tiziana “Titti” Cotella – drums*

Guest musicians
Fabio Rinaudo – bagpipes
Michel Balatti – tin whistle, flute
Stefano Pellegrino – cello
Mattia Fenoglio – percussion

* Drums recorded by Daniele Barbarossa


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

Metal Chick of the Month – Amanda Somerville

I hide you, I find you, I catch your fall…  I’ll be there when the lights go out…

She has already been involved with so many distinct bands and projects it feels like she’s a 100-year old veteran in heavy music, when in fact she’s just about to turn 39 years old. I’m talking about the unstoppable American vocalist Amanda Somerville, our metal chick of the month who’s not only a singer and songwriter, but also a vocal coach, being known primarily for her work with several renowned European Symphonic Metal bands such as Edguy, Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot and After Forever, and having also produced two solos albums and two solo EP’s so far, as well as a wide range of more underground acts like Aina, Trillium and Exit Eden. also, there are countless albums and songs from other artists in the world of heavy music where you can find the stunning Amanda delivering her beautiful vocal notes, only proving how professional she is and how much other musicians admire her talent and skills as a vocalist. Having said that, are you ready to get delightfully “lost” in the world of Amanda Somerville?

Born on March 7, 1979 in Flushing, a city in Genesee County in the U.S. state of Michigan, Amanda Somerville, whose full name is Amanda Somerville-Scharf, attended Flushing Senior High School, graduating a full year early and winning a scholarship for graduating with high honors to the University of Michigan in Flint, Michigan, where she majored in psychology. In 1999 she moved from the United States to Wolfsburg, Germany, working mainly in Germany and in the Netherlands. Her voice has a wide range, but she has said herself that her tessitura is in the alto range, and if you have no idea of what that means you can take a quick look at this short and sweet explanatory video HERE. On August 19, 2013, she announced that she was engaged to be married to After Forever’s former guitarist Sander Gommans, and the pair were married in July 2014; less than one year after their marriage, on January 8, 2015, the couple announced they were expecting their first child, who was born on July 17, 2015 and named Lana Elise Gommans, and now in January the couple and little Lana were joined by the identical twins Anya Jayne and Juliet Marlies (and you can expect to hear more from Amanda and her new babies through her official blog).

Amanda has started singing from a very early age in her life, having grown up in a very musical family where music was a very basic and essential part of life. Furthermore, not only she had that influence and inspiration at home, but she mentioned she also had very good music mentors at elementary school, learning how to read music and play the piano at a rather young age. In addition, she said she has always dreamed about becoming a musician, and that’s all she ever wanted to do. For instance, throughout her life she has always performed in talent shows, competitions and concerts, hosting karaoke, singing in cover bands and jazz combos to earn money while she was in university, and even doing some appearances as a DJ. However, albeit being famous worldwide for her participation in several metal bands and projects, Amanda said that when she started her career she was a solo artist directed to the Pop Rock genre with some American folk elements. It was only when she decided to record a single with her bass player and drummer years ago that she met German guitarist, bassist and musical producer Sascha Paeth, who at that time was related to her bass player and owned a recording studio. Both Sascha and German keyboard player and musical producer Michael “Miro” Rodenberg were at the spot, helped them set up everything and listened to them performing, until they asked Amanda if she wanted to do something together with them, opening the doors of heavy music for our stunning diva. And regarding her education in music and arts in general, she said she never really studied music in a formal way, nor was she classically trained in singing. Amanda mentioned that it was her grandmother who taught her how to read music and gave her the basic foundation that she still uses for composing until today. Furthermore, as a vocal coach she was able to work with several distinguished musicians, always being open to learn from her students and to face new challenges they might bring her, therefore growing as a musician and as a person.

Trying to list every single band and project Amanda was or is still involved in Heavy Metal might be one of the toughest tasks one can try to accomplish, as she has already written and recorded with several renowned acts like the ones mentioned in the beginning of this essay about our gorgeous American vocalist, as well as her solos releases (which by the way were primarily soft and elegant Pop Rock with some Hard Rock, folk and soul music influences) and a rock opera, among other distinct endeavors. Let’s start with her solo career, with the releases of the albums In the Beginning There Was… (2000) and Windows (2008), and the EP’s Blue Nothing (2000) and Never Alone (2003), with her upcoming album Conformity Challenged to be announced soon. You can have a listen at her softer and more graceful side in songs like I Miss America and Puzzling Rapunzel, from her debut album, and Inner Whore and Sometimes, from Windows, but that’s the lightest music you’ll find in this tribute to Amanda, as from now on it’s going to be pure heavy music flowing through her veins and vocals.

Her first venture in metal was her collaboration with German multi-instrumentalist Robert Hunecke-Rizzo (Heavens Gate, Luca Turilli, Kamelot, Rhapsody of Fire), co-writing the rock opera Aina, a Symphonic and Progressive Heavy/Power Metal project featuring a number of guest appearances including Glenn Hughes, Michael Kiske and Candice Night, where the concept and lyrics were written by Amanda herself. There was only one album released under the project, the 2003 opus Days of Rising Doom (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), and don’t expect to see anything new from Aina in the short or even long-term. After Aina, she made a similar collaboration with her husband-to-be Sander Gommans, providing vocals and lyrical concept for HDK (the acronym for Hate Death Kill), a Melodic Death/Gothic Metal project with whom she released the albums System Overload, in 2009, and Serenades of the Netherworld, in 2014. Do you want to bang your head to the music by HDK? Try the songs System Overload and Mortal Zombie, one from each release by the project, and see if you like this more ferocious side of Amanda.

Perhaps her most remarkable project to date is her partnership with the iconic German vocalist Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic) on a musical project entitled Kiske/Somerville, also featuring Primal Fear’s own Mat Sinner on bass and Magnus Karlsson on guitars (who by the way are the two main songwriters of the project), and Czech drummer Veronika Lukešová. In 2010, the project released their debut self-titled album, followed by another full-length release named City of Heroes, in 2015. From their debut installment, you can enjoy on YouTube songs such as Silence and If I Had A Wish, and from City of Heroes you should take a listen at Walk on Water.

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Another very interesting project by Amanda goes by the name of Trillium, a Symphonic Metal band formed in 2011 in the Netherlands (where she currently resides), featuring some of her longtime fellow musicians Sander Gommans, Sascha Paeth and Michael “Miro” Rodenberg, having released in 2011 the full-length album Alloy. She described the music by Trillium as “more like an expedition with my musical family to explore and celebrate the metamorphosis I’ve gone through as an artist over the past several years”, while the name of the band “symbolizes a trinity because things are always showing up in 3s in my environment and there are a number of triads occurring in this project, as well”. And she went on saying that “the name of the album, Alloy, is symbolic and metaphorical. An alloy is a substance composed of two or more metals, or of a metal or metals combined with a non-metal, intimately mixed. It also means standard; quality; fineness and is an admixture, as of good with evil. I’m a Pisces, so I’m all about duality and combining known elements – sometimes opposing each other – to create something different. Though I’ve been working myself further and further into the metal scene, I still always feel the need to add an extra element to make it shine, bling, stand out”. From Alloy, you should check the song Coward, and if you like what you hear you can enjoy the full album HERE.

In 2017, Amanda joined a new project entitled Exit Eden, featuring four female singers from the rock and metal scene from four different countries, those being Clémentine Delauney (Visions of Atlantis, Serenity) from France, Marina La Torraca (Highlight Kenosis, Phantom Elite) from Brazil, newcomer Anna Brunner from Germany, and obviously Amanda Somerville. The band was conceived with the plan “to show the world that almost every classic song can be transformed into a solid metal-rock song”, a concept similar to Finland’s Northern Kings, releasing in 2017 the album Rhapsodies In Black, comprised of 11 metallic versions for some of the biggest pop and rock classics like Rihanna’s Unfaithful, Depeche Mode’s A Question Of Time, Shontelle’s Impossible, Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, Backstreet Boys’ Incomplete, and Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart, with the stunning Dutch goddess Simone Simons also appearing in two songs of the album, Madonna’s Frozen, Adele’s Skyfall.

Apart from all those bands and projects, Amanda has also been involved with several iconic acts either live or as a guest musician in some of their studio albums. For instance, in 2008, she toured America with Dutch Symphonic Metal icons Epica, while Simone Simons recovered from a staph infection; she was also one of the live guest vocalists for Tobias Sammet’s metal opera Avantasia world tours in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2016, where she performed both backing vocals and lead vocals for a few songs; she was featured on Douglas R. Docker’s space metal opera Docker’s Guild in 2012 in a duet with Goran Edman on the debut album The Mystic Technocracy – Season 1: The Age of Ignorance, and again in 2016 in the Flash Gordon Suite on the album The Heisenberg Diaries – Book A: Sounds of Future Past; and also played the part of the “Queen of the Nile” in an album titled The Book of Gates, by a metal opera project from the Middle-East named EON, produced by Lebanese guitarist Amadeus Awad. And the list goes on and on with Amanda lending her beautiful voice to several interesting songs recorded by bands like After Forever, Edguy, Lunatica, Serenity, Wolfpakk, Shaman, DesDemon, Hollow Haze, Sebastien, Soulspell, and many, many others.

When asked about her experience working with several renowned artists such as Alice Cooper, Ian Gillan and Eric Martin due to her role in projects like Rock Meets Classic and Avantasia, Amanda answered that working with all those metal icons is always a pleasure for her, as she always enters a new situation or project with a very open mind and loves to be surprised by those artists, not to mention she also said most of them are amazing human beings. In addition, when asked which musician or artist she would love to work with in the future, Amanda mentioned some important names in music such as John Fogerty, the mastermind behind Creedence Clearwater Revival; Grace Slick, an American musician and former model, widely known in Rock N’ Roll history for her role in San Francisco’s burgeoning psychedelic music scene in the 60’s, being the voice of bands like Jefferson Airplane and Starship; and as a solo artist she would also love to work with Paul Simon and Tori Amos. As you can see although those musicians listed by Amanda are not your regular metal icons, they do have a huge influence on countless metal artists and bands from different styles, proving once again heavy music is not and can never be isolated from the rest of the world of music.

Regarding her inspirations for her music and lyrics and her full creative process, Amanda said she doesn’t really have a “normal process” as far as songwriting goes, with her songs beginning sometimes as a chorus or a verse, sometimes as just the lyrics with the body of the composition coming later, and sometimes the song will come to her from start to finish in its entirety. She complemented by saying that as a songwriter, the lyrics are of extreme importance to her, and that her songs are always very emotional because she doesn’t believe in writing or performing anything that can’t make people feel along with her. All her songs are personal-based, talking about human struggles and relationships, whether it was something she went through, a dream, or inspired by someone or something, and all being “little windows” into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville.

Last but not least, apart from all her projects and adventures in music in general, Amanda still found some time in June 2014 to be part of a German television show named Keep Your Light Shining, which aired from the end of May to June 2014 by ProSieben, singing the song Addicted To You by Avicii (and you can also see her personal message about the show HERE). She said she accepted the challenge because she enjoys getting out of her comfort zone, pushing herself to her own limits. However, the show had to make some special arrangements for her due to her touring schedule and other details, as she was only able to join their third show. Many people asked her why she was doing that, because she didn’t need it, but she said she actually wanted to participate on the show as a new experience for her. Moreover, despite the final result not being very positive for her, she said she wasn’t sad or anything like that as in the end she was the only member with a career while some of the others went backstage and cried their hearts out. What’s next for Amanda Somerville? Now with the twins she will probably take some time off from all her endeavors in heavy music, but I’m sure it won’t take long for us metalheads to have the pleasure of listening to her beautiful voice once again accompanied by some flammable guitar riffs and headbanging beats in another ass-kicking song, band or project.

Amanda Somerville’s Official Facebook page
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“I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads.” – Amanda Somerville

Album Review – Vinide / Reveal (2018)

A science fiction story in the form of first-class Symphonic and Melodic Metal, thoroughly crafted by a skillful four-piece act hailing from Finland.

Finnish Symphonic Metal band Vinide was formed back in 2003 in Kuhmo, a town in Finland located at the south-eastern corner of the Kainuu region, by five high school students who shared the same interest in playing heavy music. Since their inception, Vinide have already released the full-length albums Vinide (2007) and Odes For Thoughts (2014), as well as the EP’s The Puzzle (2008) and Into The Waters (2010), but it’s now in 2018 with their new full-length opus titled Reveal that the band has put the pedal to the metal, increasing the strength, complexity and reach of their music. The composing of the new album begun in the spring of 2015, when vocalist and guitarist Elmeri Kinnunen came up with an idea of science fiction story, and after one and a half year in the making the band is finally ready to pierce our minds with the imposing sonority found throughout Reveal.

Featuring a classy artwork by Finnish graphic designer Petri Lampela, Reveal is a science fiction story about a former employee of a large information technology company named OMEGA who finds himself locked in a mental asylum and is even sentenced to death. After he escapes the asylum, he starts to search for what is really going on and what the biggest interest of OMEGA’s artificial intelligence project is. The fears of the future seem to come true, while the humankind is driving itself towards definite termination. The story goes on and a lot of plot twists are going to happen. How big is the urge to create something that humans don’t fully understand? What is going to happen to our hero during his journey to find out the origin of everything?

A futuristic and cinematic intro builds the stage for the symphonic extravaganza titled The Beginning Scene, which kicks off in full force with orchestrations and crushing riffs filling all spaces, before Elmeri starts telling the story proposed. Moreover, this song has a touch of Avantasia and Stratovarius added to its core, all beautifully complemented by the stunning vocals by guest soprano Minna Seilonen. Then we have Breakout, sounding more melodic, intricate and electrifying, and presenting that traditional Scandinavian Melodic Metal sonority with drummer Jaakko Juntunen living up to the legacy of icons such as Jörg Michael and Jukka Nevalainen, not to mention the fiery guitar solos by Elmeri and his bandmate Mikko Kähkönen; followed by the title-track Reveal, an introspective power ballad led by Elmeri and his dark vocals, continuing to tell the obscure story of the main character with all melancholy being boosted by smooth guitar lines together with acoustic moments, as well as the song’s awesome background symphonic elements.

In a bridge named Anger, an eerie voice gives more details about the evolution of the facts, being the perfect warm-up for the Opera Metal-inspired tune The Rat, blending the finesse of symphonic music with the fury of Heavy Metal, with highlights to the fantastic job done by Heikki Polvinen and his keys, supported by the classic riffs by Elmeri and Mikko while Minna once again embellishes the atmosphere with her angelical voice. In Plea, it’s time for another guest musician, Kaija Kinnunen, to lend her voice to a different character, explaining who that person is in Emanuel, an upbeat symphony of Scandinavian Metal, feeling and sounding very classy and impactful with great performances by Elmeri on vocals and Jaakko on drums, also presenting those fun traditional duels between guitars and keyboards.

The whole plan is finally revealed in the interesting The Truth, building an instant (and obvious) connection with The Plan, a mid-tempo Melodic Metal tune the likes of Avantasia, being more symphonic and imposing than previous tracks during its seven minutes of melodious waves of heavy music; whereas Believe offers the listener pure Power Metal infused with orchestral elements to make it bolder and more gripping, also presenting what can be considered the heaviest riffs by Elmeri and Mikko in the entire album. In addition, Heikki steals the spotlight with his epic keys, resulting in a song more-than-recommended for lovers of the more orchestral side of heavy music. And Vinide bring forward a modern, metallic beginning to another blast of kick-ass Symphonic metal titled Bombs, where it’s quite interesting to see in detail how the band manages to combine the core heaviness of Melodic Metal with the gentle side of symphonic music, creating an amazing full-bodied musicality for fans of the genre.

Another Dimension is in my opinion the most generic of all songs despite presenting solid guitars and keys and the always pleasant vocals by Minna, but fortunately that small slide doesn’t last for too long as Vinide fire another ass-kicking song named The Great Voyage, leaning towards more traditional Heavy Metal spiced up by Hard Rock elements, but of course without losing the band’s symphonic essence. In other words, it’s indeed a voyage through the realms of Scandinavian Metal full of classic guitar lines, whimsical keys and epic passages. And the ending song in Reveal, entitled Save the Earth, couldn’t sound more furious and potent, with the entire band delivering faster and heavier riffs and beats while Kaija adds a touch of modernity to the song by impersonating the program voice.

The best way to know more about Vinide and their futuristic realm of Symphonic Metal is by following them on Facebook and on VKontakte, and by listening to their music on YouTube, on Spotify and on SoundCloud. And if you’re a huge admirer of Symphonic and Melodic Metal with a thrilling story behind the music, you can purchase Reveal at the Inverse Records webstore, at Record Shop X or on Amazon, among other locations. To be fair, Reveal is already an excellent album even if you pay zero attention to the story being told, just to give you an idea of how talented the quartet is; but of course, I highly recommend you listen to the album from start to finish while being fully immersed in the perils faced by the main character. That is something truly unique, and something that only heavy music can provide you.

Best moments of the album: Breakout, The Rat, Believe and Bombs.

Worst moments of the album: Another Dimension.

Released in 2018 Inverse Records

Track listing    
1. Intro 1:31
2. The Beginning Scene 5:05
3. Breakout 4:20
4. Reveal 6:13
5. Anger 0:52
6. The Rat 5:00
7. Plea 0:27
8. Emanuel 5:46
9. The Truth 2:37
10. The Plan 7:04
11. Believe 4:50
12. Bombs 4:41
13. Another Dimension 5:49
14. The Great Voyage 5:44
15. Save the Earth 3:43

Band members
Elmeri Kinnunen – guitars, vocals
Mikko Kähkönen – guitars
Heikki Polvinen – keyboards
Jaakko Juntunen – drums

Guest musicians
Minna Seilonen – violin, soprano voice
Kaija Kinnunen – program voice, woman

Album Review – Rexoria / Queen Of Light (2018)

Welcome to the amazing world of Melodic Metal ruled by an up-and-coming four-piece act from Sweden.

Hailing from Jönköping, is a city on the shores of Lake Vättern, located in southern Sweden, Melodic Metal quartet Rexoria have been on a fast and healthy rise since their inception in 2016, having already toured several countries with bands like Bloodbound and Crystal Viper, as well as supporting renowned acts such as Backyard Babies, Entombed A.D. and Battle Beast in their homeland Sweden. And the reason for that amazing upward trend is obviously the extreme talent of their band members, their devoted passion for Heavy Metal and, as the icing on the cake, the stunning performance by frontwoman Frida Ohlin, who by the way was one of the finalists in the Swedish competition Årets Rockröst in 2016 (which would translate as “The Rock Voice”).

Blending their core Melodic Metal with folk influences, Rexoria released their debut EP in 2016, entitled Moments Of Insanity, followed by another EP in 2017, The World Unknown, both presenting what this talented Swedish band is capable of. However, it’s now with their first full-length album, elegantly named Queen Of Light, that fans of the more melodious side of Heavy Metal will be able to experience a full-bodied, detailed blast of the classy music crafted by Rexoria, heavily inspired by the golden years of Heavy Metal and spiced up by nuances of contemporary Power and Folk Metal. Put differently, if you’re crazy for Scandinavian Metal the likes of Stratovarius and Nightwish, you might have found your next addiction in heavy music.

The movie-inspired intro The Land in Between transports the listener to the whimsical and unknown world of Rexoria, with the guitar duo comprised of Jonas Gustavsson and Cristofer Svensson opening the gates for the harmonious vocals by Frida to welcome us all to the first song of the album, titled Stranded, a precise fusion of Melodic and Symphonic Metal highly inspired by bands like Epica and Nightwish; followed by the title-track Queen of Light, feeling even more imposing and melodic and also bringing elements from the classic Heavy Metal played by Doro, or in other words, it’s 80’s metal with a catchy chorus and electrifying riffs and beats where you can sense the amazing smell of epicness and power that permeates the air throughout the whole song. And leaning towards modern Folk Metal we have Voice of Heaven, with the keyboards by Frida generating a gentle ambience while the rest of the band makes sure the sounding remains as metal as it can be.

Way to Die is another stylish tune that effectively combines the more trenchant elements of Heavy Metal with the elegance and delicacy of symphonic and operatic music, with Frida once again having a remarkable performance with her potent voice. After such high-end display of heavy music we’re treated to a passionate, melancholic and gripping ballad named Song by the Angels, again taking us back to 80’s Heavy Metal with pure romance flowing from all instruments, especially the guitars by both Jonas and Cristofer which add tons of feeling and electricity to the overall result, whereas in Next Generation old school guitar riffs are in perfect sync with the precise beats by drummer Martin Gustavsson, not to mention the song’s fiery guitar solos and the epic vibe that supports the band from start to finish. The next tune, entitled The Saviour, offers more of Rexoria’s traditional metal lines with hints of Folk Metal and 80’s Hard Rock, with Jonas and Cristofer displaying all their passion for Melodic Metal by delivering smooth lines with their instruments and building the stage for Frida’s vocals to shine once again.

Hurricane is perhaps the most Heavy and Power Metal of all songs of the album (and definitely the most inspiring one), which is something you can already expect taking into account its name, showcasing an accelerated rhythm led by the potent drumming by Martin while Frida steals the spotlight yet again with her resonant vocal lines. Now think about an epic tune with a serene background led by the stunning vocals of a female warrior? That’s exactly what you’ll get in My Spirit Will Run Free, a song that can’t get any more 80’s than that, before the closing act You’ll Be Alright brings more of the band’s traditional musicality, with Jonas, Cristofer and Martin providing a beyond solid support for Frida to mesmerize us one last time, and when the song is over you’ll simply realize there’s nothing bad or out of place in the entire album.

You can purchase Queen Of Light at several online stores such as Pride & Joy Music, Nuclear Blast, and Bengans, as well as on iTunes and on Amazon, and remember you can always keep track of all things Rexoria through their official Facebook page, and listen to their music on YouTube and on Spotify. Then after having Queen Of Light on your hands, you’ll finally be allowed to enter the fantastic world of Melodic Metal ruled by Rexoria and let those four Swedish metallers guide you on a journey through the waves of harmonious and elegant Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Queen of Light, Song by the Angels and Hurricane.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing   
1. The Land in Between 1:40
2. Stranded 4:49
3. Queen of Light 4:18
4. Voice of Heaven 4:43
5. Way to Die 4:16
6. Song by the Angels 5:36
7. Next Generation 4:18
8. The Saviour 4:44
9. Hurricane 4:53
10. My Spirit Will Run Free 5:11
11. You’ll Be Alright 5:37

Band members
Frida Ohlin – vocals, keyboards
Jonas Gustavsson – guitar, bass
Cristofer Svensson – guitar
Martin Gustavsson – drums

Album Review – At Dawn’s Edge / Through Glass Eyes (2017)

An excellent debut album by a Canadian trinity that loves to experiment with several aspects from distinct music styles, incorporating all those nuances and vibes into their core Melodic Metal.

Hailing from Mississauga, a city of around 800,000 people that’s part of the culturally diverse Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, here comes Melodic Metal trinity At Dawn’s Edge, a band that, albeit being rooted in the more aggressive qualities of metal, especially the core elements found in Melodic, Symphonic and Groove Metal, loves to explore new grounds and experiment with several aspects from distinct styles such as Flamenco, Electronic and Middle-Eastern sounds, incorporating all those nuances and vibes into one cohesive piece of music. That amalgamation of metal and non-metal genres culminated now in 2017 with the release of their debut full-length album, entitled Through Glass Eyes, highly recommended for fans of the music by bands like Epica, Evanescence and Nightwish, among many others.

The trio comprised of newcomer Tamara Filipovic as the band’s frontwoman and founding members Alexandru Oprea and Matt Ozzy on guitars were joined in Through Glass Eyes by a respectful group of guest musicians, with Spencer Creaghan taking care of the orchestral arrangements found throughout the entire album, Chris McConnell making a passionate vocal duo with Tamara on “Amorina”, and James Hayes adding an extra touch of delicacy to the songs “Cálida Brisa”, “Utter” and “Forgotten Isle” with his incredible violin solos, not to mention the talented drummer Marcus Sisk, who has been supporting the band during their live performances. In addition, three tracks in Through Glass Eyes (those being “Venus’s Rapture,” “Utter” and “From the Ashes”) were part of the band’s 2015 EP named First Contact, still with vocalist Ashavari Anna Joshi, but completely re-recorded with Tamara on vocals and boosted by a sharper and more thunderous production.

Where Do I Begin? Well, that’s the question proposed by the band in this instrumental intro led by potent bass sounds blended with electronic elements, building the stage for the groovy and melodic riffs by Alex and Matt in If Ghosts Were Men, with Tamara bringing epicness to the music with her mesmerizing voice, inviting the listener to the world of passion, adventure and high-end Heavy Metal brought forth by At Dawn’s Edge. In Sightless, rumbling sounds keep flowing from guitars and bass while Tamara keeps thriving on vocals, with the song’s pounding drums fusing perfectly with all orchestrations and electronic vibes. Moreover, it’s quite impressive how At Dawn’s Edge can sound extremely metallic but also commercially approachable at the same time, which is also the case in Venus’s Rapture, where the band speeds up their pace considerably, reminding me of the melodic sonority by Epica and Nightwish but presenting the band’s own twist and groove. In other words, this is a perfect choice for their live setlists, setting the crowd on fire with the exciting contrast between Alex and Matt’s slashing riffs with Tamara’s gentle voice.

Dangerous Excuses brings a hybrid of Progressive and Melodic Metal, as if Epica went Dream Theater, a more traditional approach to modern music by At Dawn’s Edge (despite losing its grip after a while) where guitars and orchestral elements take turns in leading the musicality; followed by Cálida Brisa (Interlude), an interesting instrumental bridge featuring elements from Mother Nature blended with hints of Flamenco, topped off with a beautiful violin solo by James, and Amorina, a song that presents elements from Folk Metal blended with Middle-Eastern nuances, flowing smoothly form start to finish while Tamara and Chris have their “beauty and the beast” moments. Then showcasing their most metallic vein we have Nightmare Reality, one of the heaviest and most intricate of all songs, bringing elements from Alternative Metal the likes of Evanescence fused together with the more symphonic sounds from Epica, with the strings by both Alex and Matt sounding sharper than ever.

Utter is another elegant display of modern and vibrant Symphonic Metal infused with hints of several other metal and non-metal styles as well as some orchestrations, also offering more of the band’s solid guitar solos and again featuring a classy violin solo by James, whereas in From The Ashes we’re treated to an epic vibe with tons of modernity and progressiveness thanks to the amazing job done by Matt and Alex on guitars, setting the tone for Tamara to steal the spotlight with her stunning vocals once again. And there’s still a lot more to go in Through Glass Eyes, starting with Evil Flamingo, one of the darkest compositions of the album where Tamara sets fire to the musicality with her powerful performance, enhanced by the crisp solos by Matt and Alex and a puissant wall of sounds created by both bass and drums. In Forgotten Isle, James’ violin strikes again in another feast of symphonic, progressive and groovy tones and reverberations, before the bonus track Dead Ashore We Lay concludes the album by offering the listener almost 9 minutes of the band’s sophisticated music, exhaling inventiveness, romance and electricity.

In a nutshell, as previously mentioned it’s simply amazing how At Dawn’s Edge were capable of drawing influences from so many distinct types of music, putting all of them together and creating fresh and captivating metal in Through Glass Eyes without sounding cheesy, convoluted or over the top. Hence, you can get more details on the band, their music and why and how their creative process works so well by following them on Facebook, listening to their music on YouTube and on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing Through Glass Eyes through their BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. I believe the band’s next steps will be to spread their music all over the world, touring as much as possible not only in the Greater Toronto Area but also in the rest of Canada, in the US and even overseas, and Through Glass Eyes is certainly the right type of fuel they need to reach all those places and succeed in their career, having what it takes to please all types of fans of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: If Ghosts Were Men, Venus’s Rapture, Nightmare Reality and Evil Flamingo.

Worst moments of the album: Dangerous Excuses.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Where Do I Begin? (Intro) 0:51
2. If Ghosts Were Men 4:43
3. Sightless 3:36
4. Venus’s Rapture 3:35
5. Dangerous Excuses 6:17
6. Cálida Brisa (Interlude) 2:37
7. Amorina 4:17
8. Nightmare Reality 3:51
9. Utter 5:55
10. From The Ashes 6:25
11. Evil Flamingo 5:13
12. Forgotten Isle 6:25

Bonus track
13. Dead Ashore We Lay 8:49

Band members
Tamara Filipovic – vocals
Alexandru Oprea – guitars
Matt Ozzy – guitars

Guest musicians
Spencer Creaghan – orchestral arrangements
Chris McConnell – male vocals on “Amorina”
James Hayes – violin solo on “Cálida Brisa”, “Utter” and “Forgotten Isle”
Marcus Sisk – drums (live)

Album Review – Eshtadur / Mother Gray (2017)

Overflowing rage, despair and electricity, the brand new album by this implacable Colombian act will certainly help the band cement their name in the Extreme Metal underground scene worldwide.

Formed in the fall of 2005 in Pereira, the capital city of the Colombian department of Risaralda, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Eshtadur has been on a roll since their inception, making a name for themselves in all four corners of the world with their unrelenting fusion of extreme sounds in the vein of bands such as At The Gates, Behemoth, Soilwork, Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh, always adding imposing and symphonic elements to their music to make it even more impactful to our ears. For instance, the band has already toured Colombia, Peru and Mexico, they headlined a stage at Rock Al Parque (which is not only the largest rock festival in Colombia and one of the most important in Latin America, but also arguably the largest free rock festival in the continent) in 2016, and they’re getting ready for their first ever US dates and many other festival appearances in the coming months.

Having already released the full-length albums Dominated by Dummies, in 2011, and Stay Away from Evil and Get Close to Me, in 2013, as well as their debut demo Rebellion of Angels, in 2007, and the EP Oblivion, in 2015, the band comprised of Jorg August on vocals and guitars, Alejo Bet on guitars, Victor Valencia on bass and Mauro Marin on drums is effectively expanding their exposure to the metal scene worldwide with their third full-length installment, the excellent Mother Gray, featuring a classy artwork designed by French artist Sylvain (Razorimages), guest guitar solos by Christofer Malmström (Darkane), and an endless amount of electricity and rage flowing from all their instruments, all led by the desperate growls by Jorg.

The heavy and dark guitars by Jorg and Alejo ignite the aggressive opening track Belong To Nowhere, a high-end fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Death and Melodic Death Metal where Mauro sounds possessed with his demonic blast beats while Jorg screams in a rabid and desperate manner throughout the entire song. Building an instant connection with the previous tune, Plaguemaker keeps the menacing aura crafted by the band even stronger, displaying a good balance of guitar lines, growls and potent drumming, while the keyboards in the background give it a Dimmu Borgir-inspired vibe; followed by the Melodic/Symphonic Metal aria Cornered At The Earth, where the band engages in their most sinister mode by deepening their growling and strengthening their beats, culminating in a violent and gripping rhythm boosted by its dark lyrics (“Gray the future and gray the earth / Dust in the soil, foil the religion / And the permanent conclusion of being the one who brings pest /Back to the world”). Whereas the Doom Metal-inspired Desolation brings forward a melancholic intro that slowly grows into an imposing sonority, as heavy and dense as it can be, with some faster moments to keep it fresh and vibrant. Moreover, the desperation flowing from the vocals is outstanding, going on and on until the song’s visceral ending to the sound of deep and putrid roars.

Getting back to a faster and more melodic sounding but still presenting the band’s characteristic symphonic elements, also showcasing fiery guitar riffs and solos as well as total havoc blasted by Mauro’s insane beats, the powerful Time Hole To Paris will certainly generate some sick mosh pits during their live concerts, while in March Of The Fallen we face an epic and somewhat funereal beginning to yet another ominous creation by Eshtadur, an eccentric “waltz” of Dark Metal with its keyboards and vocals taking the obscurity to a whole new level, again presenting more of those putrid gnarls before all is said and done. And as their “formula” seems to be one Stygian song followed by a sonic demolition, it’s time to speed things up again with the high-octane chant The Day After I Die, presenting slashing guitars blended with epic keys and rabid growls, without a single second of peace during its five minutes of sheer devastation.

As the first bonus track added by Eshtadur to Mother Gray, we have another symphonic extravaganza that will attack our senses named Heavens to The Ground (originally released in their 2015 EP Oblivion), with the guitars by Jorg and Alejo and the drumming by Mauro being in absolute sync, while the song’s keys make sure the atmosphere remains eerie for the otherworldly vociferations by Jorg.  The second bonus offered by the band is entitled Last Day Of The Condors, also from their EP Oblivion, sounding slightly similar to its predecessor (in special its guitar and vocal lines), not as tasty but still very enjoyable. And lastly we have a very cohesive, potent and fresh version they recorded in 2014 for Survivor’s hit Burning Heart (check out the original version HERE) featuring guest musicians Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork) and Christopher Clancy (Mutiny Within) on vocals, and Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) and Allan Marcus (Arecibo) on lead guitars. Survivor might be better known by the usual rocker for the all-time Rocky Balboa-classic “Eye of the Tiger”, but this song also represents all the passion Survivor had for rock music, not to mention this cover version is Eshtadur’s own tribute to Survivor’s longtime frontman Jimi Jamison (R.I.P.), who died of a heart attack in September 2014.

If you enjoyed all the fury blasted by Eshtadur in Mother Gray, I highly recommend you go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for more of their kick-ass music, and if you want to purchase Mother Gray (which you can listen in its entirety on Spotify), you can grab your copy of the album at the Bleeding Music Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes, on Amazon, or at several other locations such as Barnes & Noble and ImportCDs. As mentioned in the beginning of this review, Mother Gray overflows rage, despair and energy, and as you’re more than aware of, those are some of the main elements which make us love Heavy Metal so much. In other words, Eshtadur nailed it with Mother Gray, surely making all metalheads in Colombia proud of their music.

Best moments of the album: Belong To Nowhere, Cornered At The Earth and Time Hole To Paris.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Music Records

Track listing
1. Belong To Nowhere 3:27
2. Plaguemaker 4:28
3. Cornered At The Earth 5:01
4. Desolation 6:50
5. Time Hole To Paris 5:21
6. March Of The Fallen 7:32
7. The Day After I Die 5:06

Oblivion/Burning Heart bonus tracks
8. Heavens to The Ground 3:26
9. Last Day Of The Condors 3:15
10. Burning Heart (Survivor cover) 4:33

Band members
Jorg August – vocals, guitars
Alejo Bet – guitars
Victor Valencia – bass
Mauro Marin – drums

Guest musician
Christofer Malmström – guitar solos

Album Review – Sinners Moon / Far Beyond The Stars EP (2017)

What are you waiting for to fly far beyond the stars with the brand new (and extremely fun) EP by this Symphonic Metal squad from Slovakia?

If you’re a fan of the music by bands such as Nightwish, Epica, Sonata Arctica, After Forever and Kamelot, among several others, you’ll be happy to know that an up-and-coming Symphonic Metal band hailing from Sereď, a town in southern Slovak Republic, is back with their imposing sounding in a brand new EP that not only lives up to the legacy of the genre, but that also offers some interesting variations and surprises that keep it truly entertaining from start to finish. I’m talking about Sinners Moon and their EP titled Far Beyond The Stars, another solid step in their recent but already exciting career and a highly recommended option for fans of the fusion of heavy music with operatic vocals and fantasy.

The fact the Sinners Moon managed to keep the exact same lineup (Simona and Derick on vocals, LukeN on guitars, Viktor on bass, Jarthuusen on keyboards and Jan on drums) that recorded their 2015 full-length opus Atlantis also helped the band in maintaining a high level of cohesiveness and dynamism in their new EP. As a matter of fact, one of the most complex songs in Atlantis, the 8-minute aria Fly to the Moon, works as the prequel to the music found in Far Beyond The Stars, proving LukeN and his bandmates are extremely focused when creating the music by Sinners Moon, always trying to give it a purpose and a soul.

The first half of the EP presents the trademark musicality by Sinners Moon, with their metal symphony permeating the air form the very first second in the intro Awakening (The Suite), creating the perfect ambience for the title-track Far Beyond The Stars, an electrifying fusion of Symphonic Metal with the more traditional version of Scandinavian Melodic Metal, where frontwoman Simona delivers her passionate and delicate vocal lines in contrast with Derick’s demonic gnarls. Moreover, LukeN is on fire with his guitar, making a flammable duo with Jarthuusen, and if you love Melodic Metal I’m sure you’ll feel energized by the song’s powerful lyrics (“Reach out your hand for the stars high above / We are hungry to find this world left aside / Please take me there we will fly to the moon / Far beyond all the stars we will touch them together”). Then in the awesome Travelers the rumbling bass by Viktor is quickly joined by Jarthuusen and LukeN, generating an amazing metallic vibe while Jan keeps the song’s pace at a thrilling level. In addition, the guitar riffs fired by LukeN provide Simona all she needs to declaim the song’s beautiful lyrics in a compelling way (“Dreams of love, dreams of life / Somewhere else we gain our hopes / With this heart and these hands / We will build a ourselves a new home / Never give up, never give in on our ways”).

After that blast of Symphonic Metal, the band brings forward two welcome surprises in Far Beyond The Stars, starting with their cover version for Skúsime To Cez Vesmír, which translates as “let’s try it through the universe”, by Slovak 80’s rock band Tublatanka (watch a vibrant live version of Tublatanka playing it in 1989 HERE). Sinners Moon added their own symphonic twist to this excellent rock song, with highlights to the amazing job done by Jan on drums as well as the electrified vocals by Simona. And the second treat of the EP is the opening track Far Beyond The Stars in a smooth and lovely piano-ballad version, with total focus on the beautiful voice of Simona, being the perfect soundtrack for being “captured” in a warm and comforting embrace by the person you love the most.

In summary, after all the epicness and imposing sounds found in Atlantis, it looks like Sinners Moon wanted to take an “alternative break” from all the seriousness that surrounded that album and show fans of heavy music a more relaxed side of the band, and let’s say they nailed it in Far Beyond The Stars, which can be purchased on BandCamp, at the Slovak Metal Army webstore or at Discogs. Also, don’t forget to visit the band’s Facebook page and YouTube channel for more of their top-tier metal music, and if you’re already addicted to their symphonic sounds you should definitely go for the deluxe digital version of the album, including a bonus demo track from their early days (before the lineup was even solidified) titled Dawn Of War, which by the way displays an above average overall production and a high-end sound quality for being just a demo, as well as few bonus featurettes including a special digital EP wallpaper, a digital booklet and a “thank you” note from the band. With that said, what are you waiting for to grab your copy of this fun EP and fly with Sinners Moon far beyond the stars?

Best moments of the album: Travelers and Skúsime To Cez Vesmír.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Slovak Metal Army

Track listing
1. Awakening (The Suite) 1:42
2. Far Beyond The Stars 4:19
3. Travelers 4:10
4. Skúsime To Cez Vesmír (Tublatanka cover) 4:24
5. Far Beyond The Stars (Piano Version) 5:08

Deluxe Digital Version bonus track
6. Dawn Of War (2009 Demo Version) 5:47

Band members
Simona – vocals
Derick – growls
LukeN – guitars
Viktor – bass
Jarthuusen – keyboards
Jan – drums

Album Review – Behind the Shadows / Demons (2017)

Offering fans of heavy music an amalgamation of diverse metal genres and subgenres, this very interesting project hailing from Greece is ready to rumble with their brand new full-length album.

Here’s a very interesting project hailing from the always prolific city of Alexandroúpoli, the capital of the Evros regional unit in East Macedonia and Thrace, in Greece, offering fans of heavy music a unique amalgamation of diverse metal genres and subgenres to the point each one of their songs sound very distinct when compared to their other creations. I’m talking about Symphonic/Power Metal act Behind the Shadows, who started as Mind Mirror in the year of 1997, but who since 2008 has been blasting metal music under their new name for admirers of both heavier sounds and more melodic lines, as you’ll be able to see in their brand new album, titled Demons.

Comprised of Gian, the band’s mastermind who takes care of guitars and bass, and Pasxalis Nikiphoridis on vocals and on lead and rhythm guitars, Behind the Shadows had some fantastic support from several musicians from the Greek scene to bring Demons into being. For instance, the album features guest vocalists Zion (Crossover, Hocus) and Christos Kaliatsas, and guest guitarists Dimitris Haidemenos (Lost in Neverland), Stratos Vrachiolias (Defision), Sotiris Pavlidis (Bacchanalia) and Kyriakos Mpouloumpasis, all providing their personal share of electricity and feeling to the music found in the album. As aforementioned, the final result in Demons is really good, with the music being cohesive, diverse and, above all, as metal as it can be.

And their heavy and epic symphony begins in full force in the opening track, the excellent Become The Apocalypse, where the dynamic duo Gian and Pasxalis do a great job with their potent vocals and riffs, specially during the song’s catchy chorus, not to mention the series of kick-ass solos by guest guitarists Dimitris, Stratos and Kyriakos. Coma To Hell, also featuring Kyriakos on lead guitar, presents a darker and more lancinating vibe, sounding like the early days of Metallica and Megadeth with a Death Metal twist, with the band relying on the song’s brutal drumming as their heavy artillery, therefore enhancing the impact of this hellish creation considerably; while in the vicious Power Metal hymn Piece Of Shadows, Gian and Pasxalis keep blasting pure metal from their guitars, with the harsh growls bringing more obscurity to the overall result. Moreover, pay good attention to the traditional Heavy Metal guitar duo the likes of Iron Maiden during the whole song as the icing on the cake. And featuring guest musician Zion on vocals adding an extra touch of “thrashiness” to the music with his hardcore attitude, The Beast Rises From The East brings to the listener a vibrant and heavy-as-hell sonority, with both Gian and Pasxalis delivering slashing riffs and bass lines nonstop.

Zombie Flesh Eaters, featuring Christos on vocals, is another kick-ass hybrid of Power Metal and more extreme forms of music such as Death Metal, sounding visceral from start to finish with some electrifying guitar lines by Gian and Pasxalis, keeping the momentum going for the title-track Demons, where cavernous growls bring ferocity to the music while the guitars bring melody and balance to the final result, feeling quite epic at times, not to mention the awesome contribution by Stratos and Sotiris on lead guitar. Then elements from Thrash Metal and Hardcore can be seen in the fast-paced tune Necrophilia, a devastating tune perfect for their live performances with a frantic flow, followed by Holy Lie, perhaps the song with the highest amount of extreme elements from Death and Black Metal, in special it’s demonic drumming and deep growling. Furthermore, their work on guitars is simply superb in this dark and melodic chant.

Crucified For The Innocences keeps the album’s quality at a good level through its flammable riffs, hellish growls and piercing rhythm, with once again the guitar solos stealing the spotlight so thrilling they sound. Moreover, there’s not even a single second of peace during the whole song, which is always a good thing in metal. Sweet Darkness, the second to last track in Demons, definitely lives up to its name, with its eerie intro morphing into a tempest of heaviness and aggressiveness led by its gruesome growls, culminating in an amazing Extreme Metal extravaganza; and lastly, Nightmare is as vile and demonic as its predecessors albeit not as creative, falling flat after a while but nothing that could truly harm the overall quality of the album.

In summary, it doesn’t really matter if you’re a fan of traditional Heavy Metal, dark and piercing Black Metal, modern Death Metal or Symphonic Metal, as Behind the Shadows will always have good music to offer you from their metallic arsenal. You can take a very detailed listen at their music at their BandCamp page, where by the way you can purchase Demons, as well as on ReverbNation, and continue to support bands like Behind the Shadows to keep underground Greek metal (and of course metal in general) alive and on fire.

Best moments of the album: Become The Apocalypse, Piece Of Shadows, Demons and Sweet Darkness.

Worst moments of the album: Nightmare.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Become The Apocalypse 5:18
2. Coma To Hell 4:34
3. Piece Of Shadows 4:51
4. The Beast Rises From The East 6:51
5. Zombie Flesh Eaters 4:13
6. Demons 4:54
7. Necrophilia 4:09
8. Holy Lie 4:29
9. Crucified For The Innocences 5:22
10. Sweet Darkness 3:48
11. Nightmare 4:04

Band members
Gian – rhythm guitars, bass
Pasxalis Nikiphoridis – lead & rhythm guitars, vocals

Guest musicians
Dimitris Haidemenos – lead guitar on “Become The Apocalypse”
Christos Kaliatsas – vocals on “Zombie Flesh Eaters”
Stratos Vrachiolias – lead guitar on “Become The Apocalypse” and “Demons”
Sotiris Pavlidis – lead guitar on “Zombie Flesh Eaters”
Kyriakos Mpouloumpasis – lead guitar on “Become The Apocalypse” and “Coma To Hell”
Zion – vocals on “The Beast Rises From The East”

Album Review – Angelwings / The Edge Of Innocence (2017)

Let the Gibraltarian angels of Symphonic Metal spread their wings and fly as high as the sun to the sound of their dense, melodic and absolutely amazing debut album.

Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, might be home to only around 35,000 people, but it surely has its importance in the world of heavy music since 2013 when the excellent female-fronted Symphonic Metal act Angelwings was born. Originally conceived as a cover band for Finnish Symphonic Metal icons Nightwish by a group of experienced musicians that had been in the Gibraltar local music scene for some time, and who had played in different bands a wide variety of musical genres, Angelwings soon evolved to a much bolder and interesting project, becoming then the first ever Symphonic Metal band hailing from the small but stunning Gibraltar (you can even get some nice-to-know details about the band and each one of its members on this special article from The Gibraltar Magazine).

It didn’t take long for Angelwings to start working on their own original material, with their first demo track titled “Wonderland” being posted on YouTube in January 2015, consequently attracting attention from local and international media. Two more demos have followed since, “Memories” and “Forbidden Love”, increasing the band’s exposure in places like Argentina, Spain and the UK, which led the band to support Heavy Metal legends Saxon at the Hard N’ Heavy festival in Gibraltar in June 2015 and to perform at the Gibraltar Music Festival in September 2015. Now in 2017 the world has just witnessed the birth of Angelwings’ debut full-length opus, titled The Edge Of Innocence, an album that beautifully represents their deep passion for symphonic music, their undeniable capacity of creating captivating songs, and their extreme dedication to the band as a whole, paying a very detailed attention to everything that surrounds them, from the intricate songwriting to the band’s logo, the album’s cover art and design, their outfits and their live performances. In other words, Angelwings can be considered a role model to underground metal bands, and after listening to The Edge Of Innocence you’ll see why the sky is the limit for the band’s aspiring wings.

The band’s skillful keyboardist Glenn Cano ignites the symphonic journey titled Wonderland with his melodic keys, being joined by the rest of the band until the smooth vocals by lead singer Divi Cano bring sheer joy to our hearts. Furthermore, this amazing born-to-be-a-hit composition will please all fans of Symphonic Metal the likes of Nightwish and After Forever, as well as fans of the more alternative sounds by Evanescence, with its singalong chorus sticking deep into your mind so catchy it is (“Empty castles / In a foreign land out / In the darkness / My dark bliss / Empty castles / A never ending thrill / In the darkness / My dark bliss”). As symphonic and epic as the opening track, but showcasing heavier riffs by guitarist Paul P. Cano and stronger beats by drummer Mark Brooks, Game of Life has a somewhat Pop Rock vibe without losing its metallic essence, making it perfect for some good radio exposure; while Forbidden Love is a gripping power ballad where Divi steals the spotlight with her delicate but potent vocals, always supported by the solid instrumental crafted by the rest of the band (in special by Glenn and his spot-on keys), not to mention Paul’s soulful guitar solo.

Then a melancholic, serene intro led by the smooth piano notes by Glenn evolves into an enfolding ballad named Memories, which will undoubtedly touch your heart, with Divi once again showcasing all the beauty in her vocals while the atmosphere remains dense and captivating from start to finish. Following that comforting moment we have Lilith, bringing forward traditional Symphonic Metal with a passionate performance by Divi, intensified by the excellent job done by Paul on the guitar and the song’s epic vibe, and The Fallen, where the band enhances the progressiveness of their already well-engendered Melodic Metal, also bringing hints of modern Hard Rock added to their pleasant musicality and with bassist Darren Fa together with Mark and Glenn generating a dark and dense ambience with their respective instruments. And epicness and melancholic walk hand in hand in the full-bodied creation entitled Nile Goddess, where Glenn is once again the one responsible for the music’s initial shape. Moreover, the duo Divi on vocals and Darren on bass creates an interesting paradox of sounds, both being effectively supported by the song’s thrilling guitar lines and intricate beats.

Eerie sounds kick off the longest of all songs, the title-track The Edge of Innocence, a symphonic journey through the realms of fantasy and madness where the whole band is in absolute sync, providing Divi all she needs to shine with her emotional vocals. Simply enjoy the song’s majestic aura led by the charming Divi and the beyond talented Glenn, before being stunned by another kick-ass traditional Symphonic Metal aria titled Embracing Fantasy, which offers the listener an outstanding marriage of guitars, bass and keyboards, while Mark keeps the song’s pace as epic and emotive as possible, culminating in a atmospheric ending. And closing this exquisite and enthralling album the band brings forth more of their characteristic melody and feeling in The Legend & the Myth, a “half ballad-half waltz” creation presenting once again a mesmerizing performance by Divi, leaving the doors open for another round of high-end Symphonic Metal by Angelwings in the near future.

If you want to know more about this promising quintet from Gibraltar, go check what the band is up to on their Facebook page, listen to their music on YouTube, SoundCloud and Spotify, and grab your copy of The Edge Of Innocence at the Pride & Joy Music webstore at the MBM webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. I’m sure that, after The Edge Of Innocence, the Gibraltarian angels of Symphonic Metal will spread their metallic wings and fly higher and higher in their career, becoming one of the most important and inspiring names in modern symphonic music.

Best moments of the album: Wonderland, Memories, Lilith and Nile Goddess.

Worst moments of the album: The Fallen.

Released in 2017 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Wonderland 4:35
2. Game of Life 3:57
3. Forbidden Love 4:09
4. Memories 4:44
5. Lilith 4:19
6. The Fallen 5:15
7. Nile Goddess 6:34
8. The Edge of Innocence 8:29
9. Embracing Fantasy 6:02
10. The Legend & the Myth 5:46

Band members
Divi Cano – vocals
Paul P. Cano – guitar
Darren Fa – bass
Glenn Cano – keyboards, orchestrations
Mark Brooks – drums