Elvenstorm – The Conjuring Review

the conjuring artwork 3000Despite their corny generic-power-metal name, Elvenstorm are far from your ordinary Euro power band, and even frontwoman Laura Lombard F by no means places the French band amidst Nightwish clones. Quite the opposite, you won’t find a musically more down-to-earth troupe than Elvenstorm. No keyboards, only riffs and blasting drums for days. Contrary to their Manowar-like artwork and track titles from 2014’s Blood Leads To Glory, this year’s The Conjuring visually and lyrically sets foot in the horror metal genre. Still this does not imply any change to the band’s musical style, which is as established on their third release as it has been since their first record in 2011, Of Rage And War. Continue reading “Elvenstorm – The Conjuring Review”

The Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough Review

The Nightflight Orchestra - Sometimes The World Ain't Enough (Digi Cover)Retro style is a curious thing that pops up in all parts of (pop) culture; clothes, games, music. In some aspects in different forms than in others – in clothing it is usually not more than a nod to the past by combining an old item or pattern with modern items. You likely won’t find anyone who lived through life and arrived at a point where they’d say 1976’s clothing style was the height of fashion and they’ll always wear that now (except your one weird uncle). In music however, the retro trend lives no-holds-barred. Sure, you’ll find bands combining old and new style, but it is no rare thing to have musicians celebrating a certain musical time without exception musically. The only thing modern would be the recording and mixing techniques. Which is coincidentally where NFO reside as well. It’s not exactly 1976 where the band located the best part of music history but rather a wild mix of ’70s and ’80s tunes, as if Toto and Survivor recorded a split EP. Okay, maybe that’s more of a black metal phenomenon. Continue reading “The Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough Review”

Nils Patrik Johansson – Evil Deluxe Review

32222499_10156518361739756_4436752219504640000_nIt’s hard to record a bad album when you’re one of the most unique and sovereign voices in heavy metal. This is true for fellow Swedish vocal valiant Jørn as much as it is for Nils Patrik Johansson, releasing his first album with his eponymous solo band. While Jørn Lande’s powerful voice can’t fail expectations, his songwriting sure can. Lucky for him, his voice carried some of his rather monotonous solo albums in the same vein that Nils Patrik Johansson’s voice made his band Astral Doors‘ albums around 2010, even though lacking in songwriting, still enjoyable to listen to. With consecutive releases, Astral Doors recovered to old strength and NPJ proved to be exploding with creativity, fueling both Astral Doors and all-star band Civil War. Having left Civil War in 2016 to spend more time with his family, NPJ is still commited to the metal scene with Astral Doors, writing material for a follow-up to his band Lion‘s Share‘s 2009 album Dark Hours and now releasing his solo album. Hej Nils, while you’re being creative, how about you gather with Wuthering Height‘s Erik Ravn again? Those were some sweet records. Continue reading “Nils Patrik Johansson – Evil Deluxe Review”

Iron Fire – Dawn of Creation (Twentieth Anniversary) Review

31946109_10157403443725558_5859436604178825216_nAlbums recollecting the history of a band, especially those released by bigger bands through huge labels, are usually a rather dull matter, as proven time and time again by record labels throwing out cheap collections of the respective bands’ most beloved tracks on a CD to make a quick buck. Sometimes those are complemented by a live recording or something of the sort to have the core fans grudgingly buy an album full of songs they already own on other releases just to complete the collection with the added bonus, which is usually not worth the money of the whole package. Continue reading “Iron Fire – Dawn of Creation (Twentieth Anniversary) Review”

Monument – Hellhound Review

731411Let’s not beat around the bush; Monument are an Iron Maiden cover band. They’re not playing songs the Maiden released yet, but they probably traveled to the future to steal their fellow Brits’ upcoming hymns. While Monument aren’t sporting an iconic three-guitars line-up, the harmonic twin guitar leads, the prevalent bass licks and singer Peter Ellis’ vocals all pay homage to the greatest metal band in history (there, I said it). There aren’t as many Maiden mimics out there as one would expect considering the band’s huge influence – maybe musicians don’t dare to challenge the Maiden at their own game. After all, Iron Maiden‘s musical style is quite singular as opposed to the more or less rather typical heavy metal compositions of Judas Priest or Metallica, of which there are a million clones, simply because as soon as you play some kick ass riffs, you’ll be subjected to the comparison. Continue reading “Monument – Hellhound Review”

Grailknights – Knightfall Review

1000x1000 (2)Grailknightis a band that I disregarded for all 14 years of their existence, which is mostly due to their ridiculous image and outfits. And that’s not because I hate fun (my favorite genre is power metal, go figure) but because I detest forced images constraining bands’ musical style and development, exempli gratia Alestorm, their power metal counterpart Gloryhammer and recently German power metal outfit Victorius‘s demise into Gloryhammer platitudes. I just don’t expect these bands to deliver genuine music, and in the case of the ensembles given above this stereotyped thinking worked out for me. Alestorm are just a money-making factory centered around getting shit-faced and their music has been suffering of this since the second decade of the 2000s. Due to all those all show no substance bands, Knightfall is the first album of Germany’s Grailknights I consume. The band calls it superhero metal. Arrggghh, the nemesis. Continue reading “Grailknights – Knightfall Review”

Circle Of Silence – The Crimson Throne Review

COS_TCT_FrontcoverHow much more thrashy power metal can the world take? While this question might refer to The Crimson Throne, Germany’s Circle Of Silence‘s fifth album, it is the same question that went through my head when I listened to their label debut The Blackened Halo in 2011. As part of preparing this review, I went back (not in time though) and listened to The Blackened Halo again to see if it could convince me today more than it did back then, which was not at all. And by the God-Emperor, just as seven years ago, I still don’t feel in need of the umpteenth band mixing influences of bands like early Blind Guardian and HelloweenRageAcceptExodus and Kreator because there are so many better alternatives available already. The Crimson Throne really needs to be some damn fine composing to shed a good light on Circle Of Silence in my book. Continue reading “Circle Of Silence – The Crimson Throne Review”

Kardinal Sin – Victorious Review

Kardinal_Sin-Victorious_CD 300 dpi 3000x3000Another melodic power metal album? Well, if you actually think about it, the genre isn’t as overcrowded as it was in the early 2000s anymore. Most people still feel the overkill from back then, but actually most bands don’t dare to go bluntly melodic power metal anymore. Instead they feel the need to add some pseudo-sophisticated progressive elements for the sake of it where it makes no musical sense.

Sweden’s Kardinal Sin are a refreshing relief from the forced sounding European power metal releases of late as they make no compromises with their easy-going melodic metal. Their debut album Victorious is anything but, even though merchandised as such. The band actually formed in 2005 as Rough Diamond and went through a name change in 2014, thus Kardinal Sin arose. Moreover, Victorious was released in 2017 already digital-only (and in Sweden), with Massacre Records grabbing the band this year and giving the album a physical treatment as well.

As you may know, I have a soft spot for European power metal and as such Kardinal Sin convinced me quickly with the cheesy opening track “Patria (Fatherland)”. High-speed, double bass driven melodic metal with an immaculate, catchy power chorus? Sign me the fuck up! To be honest, at first glance I rolled my eyes a lot going through the album; each track is cheesy, melodramatic and lofty as we are used to from last decade’s pathos-laden melodic metal. Fortunately after a few more spins the melodies really cling to your memory as you expect from the genre and the eye-rolling is replaced with genuine delight about the catchy melodies and happy-go-lucky attitude.

2014 © Savage Photography - Photo: Tallee Savage

Many would stop reading now, and they would be right to do so. Kardinal Sin is a pleasure exclusive to melodic power metal fans. Anyone who can’t enjoy Rhapsody‘s dragons, can’t forgive Blind Guardian‘s ventures to middle-earth and does not enjoy a jester laughing into their face for an hour straight ought to disregard this release completely. No-holds-barred tacky melodic metal is a very singular interest, and not many will be enlightened by Kardinal Sin‘s debut.

Next to the repetitive, uninventive and generic songwriting Victorious suffers from a terrible production. For some reason, Kardinal Sin thought this album deserved an AOR production. Listening to Victorious, it feels like Journey trying their hand at power metal. The guitars are washed out and lacking any sort of punch, the supposed-to-be epic choir parts are devoid of any impact due to the tender mixing and everything sounds incredibly softened. Guys, this is power metal. Does this album have any guitars at all apart from the obvious guitar leads? Those might as well be keyboards. This is a terrible offense and has me enjoy the album way less than I could. POWER metal. Nope.

As I said, Victorious is an uncompromising recording of the most melodious of metal genres and as such a delight to true afficionados and a nightmare for everyone else. The songwriting is generic and miles away from Gamma RayHelloween or the one obvious role model for Kardinal SinEdguy. Still the melodies and grand choruses manage to captivate the listener start to finish on this easy listening melodic metal album. Don’t expect any masterpieces from this album, but as a devotee you will find yourself at least temporarily entertained. Disregard the tacky ballad “For The Heroes” please, one of the worst I have heard in a long time.

Chris, 04/20/2018

Format reviewed: mp3 320 kBit/s | DR Value: 7
Label: Massacre Records
Links: Facebook | kardinalsin.se
Release date: 04/27/2018

Ross The Boss – By Blood Sworn Review

guess what ? I invented Manowar therefore i can record & perform anything i want . Any more stupid questions ?

guess what i dont have to do anything. Esp. What brave knuckleheaded internet warriors like you want me to do . Bronx greetings to you

2304600 (1).jpgI talked about how Crematory had no success insulting people on the internet who disliked their music, and Ross Friedman who calls himself The Boss (there is only one Boss, but that’s a different topic…) is portraying a level of insecurity, immaturity and too much free time on youtube as well (above comments taken from /watch?v=KrzIcFcMrSo). The problem with Crematory was that the band (“Germany’s leading metal band”) couldn’t back it up with any sort of relevant releases since the ’90s. Mr. Friedman on the other hand is quite the legend, having shaped a part of Manowar‘s success in the ’80s with his guitar playing and some amount of songwriting on albums like Kings Of Metal, after which he left the band. Past glory aside, can Ross The Boss, despite his childish sobriquet, substantiate his attitude with powerful music blowing the POSERS away or is it as disappointing as Crematory‘s output?

Opening title track “By Blood Sworn” impresses twofold: the songwriting indeed sounds like 1988’s Kings Of Metal, the riffs and pulsating drums are reminiscent of Manowar‘s typical fist-pumping, chest-thumping adrenaline filled sound. The other impression, albeit negative, is the sound. Immediately you will notice the washed-out sounding drums and guitars. I don’t understand what Mr. Friedman was going for here – this doesn’t sound old school, it sounds like a 64 kbit/s conversion of an otherwise fine sound. No, it’s not my files, you can listen to the terrible sound yourself here.

Sound is not all, and I can forgive By Blood Sworn‘s poor production if the songs are good. Sadly, after the initial positive impression with the powerful title track, “Among The Bones” features some terrible ’80s glam impressions with a highly generic chorus. What is going on here? This is far from the usual high-octane sound Manowar are known for, and which even Mr. Friedman himself displayed with his first two albums in 2008 and 2010 as Ross The Boss. Granted, those albums weren’t high quality songwriting either, but they at least channeled the spirit of true metal.

 

It seems like two souls live in Friedman’s chest as immediately he follows up with “This Is Vengeance”, probably the best track on the album. That doesn’t make it a great track, but the generic heavy metal clientele will like it. Some nice screams, a catchy chorus and energetic drums make an enjoyable, if average Manowar style banger. With this one being the most thrilling song of By Blood Sworn, you know it is only going downhill from here. With tracks like “We Are The Night”, “Devil’s Day” and “Circle Of Damnation” Ross The Boss only reinforces the mix of groovy glam metal and heavy metal. The solos are utterly boring and generic, not what I’d expect from an expert legend like Ross. I don’t know why he is limiting his prowess to common Mötley Crüe type metal tracks.

By Blood Sworn not only suffers from a subpar sound and weird (not in the good way) songwriting, but singer Marc Lopes performs the finishing move on this album’s death. His voice only knows one note and one timbre, kind of aggressive, squealy mid to high “singing”. This is not a good fit for a rather melodic heavy metal genre and I could rather see him in a sleazy rock band or a thrash metal outfit. Here due to his incredibly inflexible voice, all vocal lines (and songs) sound the same and lack energy. While the singer of the two previous releases Patrick Fuchs could still pull off a sweet Eric Adams impression, Marc Lopes is less of a singer and more of a tortured chicken squealing the same notes over and over.

As such, By Blood Sworn is a gruesome follow up to two fine Manowar clone albums and can’t even be enjoyed by the most devout of true metal fans as Mr. Friedman is going some really strange directions with his sound. It took eight years, but maybe it is time to stop if that’s all he can pull off after this time. The album inexplicably features THREE Manowar cover songs. Come on, it’s over, stop living in the past. Oh wait, I forgot.

guess what ? I invented Manowar therefore i can record & perform anything i want . Any more stupid questions ?

Chris, 04/19/2018

Format reviewed: mp3 320 kBit/s | DR Value: 6
Label: AFM Records
Links: Facebook | ross-the-boss.com
Release date: 04/20/2018